Namibia urged to build on MCA Namibia’s successes

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By Staff Reporter

WINDHOEK – The success achieved by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Namibia programme, which rounded off its activities in September last year after a five-year run in the country, could easily be replicated through other public and private entities provided that such entities focus on results, says Kandi Shejavali, who was responsible for monitoring and evaluation of MCA Namibia programmes.

MCA Namibia implemeted developmental activities with a grant of US$304.5 million (nearly N$3.6 billion at current exchange rate) in education, tourism, and agricultural sectors. Although MCA Namibia activities closed in September 2014, the administration part of the programme would close at the end of this month.

Shejavali says MCA Namibia was focused on results guided by development, implementation and close-out throughout the programme of activities.

“In an age of heightened calls for government accountability – not just in Namibia, but around the world – a focus on results helps ensure programme effectiveness and efficiency,” she says. “In other words, results focus increases value for taxpayers’ money. You know, those large sums of money that you and I periodically give to various tax collectors that we would like to see deployed for the greater good but that we all too often hear and read about being put to work in dubious ways for dubious ends. MCA Namibia’s extraordinary achievements, which have been abundantly reported on and touted by various stakeholders, demonstrate that it doesn’t have to be that way. It really does not,” Shejavali said.

For MCA Namibia, this meant embedding the monitoring and evaluation function into implementation and regularly gathering and reporting facts and figures in quarterly monitoring and evalution status reports, not only to illustrate our achievements but to ensure implementation integrity and identify roadblocks. “We didn’t just sit back and look at the data. Instead, the management and board urgently followed up, where necessary, to lay out the appropriate way forward and unclog whatever might have been in the way of achieving the desired targets,” she said.

In addition, the data sources were frequently audited to ensure quality; after all, to do a proper job of informing evidence-based decision making, the evidence itself needs to be accurate and timely: good decisions require good information. To ensure this, the monitoring and evaluation team conducted data quality checks which helped equip, guide, and support government and other data producers to capture, process and release accurate statistics on a timely basis.

All this while remembering that monitoring and evalution is not an abstract exercise with charts and graphs and numbers…it is about human beings and about measuring how close or far we are to the kind of society that we want and about telling the related stories and informing follow-on decisions. On average, monitoring and evaluation indicators were achieved at over 100 percent and a spending rate of over 96 percent was reached, which is extremely good, especially in the face of a depreciating Namibian dollar. Shejavali said the MCA Namibia management used the extra resources to deliver many additional activities not originally envisaged at the design of the programme.

“We believe the investments have made a difference in the lives of our beneficiaries. Final outcomes will continue to emerge for quite some time to come and, as the successor entity to MCA Namibia, the National Planning Commission will pick up where we left off to tell the MCA Namibia story with continued monitoring and ongoing evaluations. With this evidence, stakeholders should feel encouraged to sustain and build upon these achievements,” said Shejavali.